Date: 10-11 May, 2016
Client: Hungarian Bocuse d’Or Academy, GL Exhibitions
Event: Hungexpo Budapest: the complete contest and the Grand Chefs’ Dinner Hungarian Bocuse d’Or Academy: Taste Hungary gastro village and Gala
Venue: Hall G1 – 10 kitchen boxes, VIP Village, jury table, grandstand, corporate boxes; Hall G2 – Taste Hungary gastro village
What is the event?
Bocuse d’Or contest, the most prestigious gastronomy competition in the world has come a long way since 1987 when Paul Bocuse launched an event that he intended as a celebration of haute cuisine and the grandest chefs of the world.
Since then, dozens of chefs have earned international recognition and fame for themselves, new cooking techniques have been revealed, new trends have emerged, and lesser known culinary cultures have come to the spotlight and gained recognition.
The European selection is a biannual competition in rotating locations, organised in order to select the top European chefs who will be representing their countries on the World Final held in every odd year in Lyon. Looking at the great prestige and highest standards of the competition it is no surprise there were very strict rules and requirements to follow for the host countries and organising venues.
The Hungarian Bocuse d’Or Academy submitted its bid in close co-operation with Hungexpo, the venue of the contest, and won the rights to organise the event, which was announced in Stockholm on the European Selection of Bocuse d’Or 2014.
To boost synergies, the European Selection of Bocuse d’Or was organised in conjunction with SIRHA Budapest, Hungary’s number one HORECA trade show, occupying 20,000sqm exhibition space in Hungexpo’s Hall A, attracting 20,000 visitors.
What happens at the event?
There were 20 countries’ chefs and their teams participating over the two days. Ten identical, 18sqm fully equipped kitchen boxes have been installed, creating a restaurant kitchen-like environment in Hall G.
A grandstand of 1,800 capacity was built opposite the kitchen boxes to accommodate the spectators and supporters arriving from 20 countries of Europe. Pre-event ticket sales have been provided through Hungexpo’s online platform and visitors were able to purchase their passes on-site as well.
For the sponsors and partners 13 corporate boxes each with 20 seats were installed in the front for best views. In addition, altogether nine large screens with total surface of more than 200sqm were providing great visibility of the whole competition from anywhere in the hall. Hungexpo’s technical operations team was co-operating with GL AV from the very beginning of the project.
The project team of Hungexpo was responsible for providing each service necessary for creating the perfect environment and circumstances for the contest, such as security, electricity and water connections, rigging, stand building, carpeting, lighting, the construction of the whole Taste Hungary area, cleaning, building of the backstage and the corporate boxes.
What about security concerns?
The overall security of this high profile international event was a crucial part of the organisation. Due to high security alert for any large European event, Hungexpo created a security plan approved by the Hungarian authorities. The event area was fenced and inspected before and during the event with strict access controls provided by the Counter Terrorism Centre.
One of the other challenges was the separation of spaces with different authorisation and access to the public visitors, the VIP’s, press, the competition participants and jury and the organisers. Solution: well-organised security checkpoints and badges with colour-codes which clearly showed the access and authorisations to the designated areas. A coordinated security and hostess team guided visitors and shared all necessary information let everyone enjoy the contest.
How was the event promoted?
To promote Hungarian cuisine the Hungarian Bocuse d’Or Academy in cooperation with 14 top restaurants, three patisseries and a café from all over the country set up Taste Hungary gastro-village on 2,600sqm next to the contest, also in Hall G. Each restaurant and patisserie offered their specialty fresh made meals and dessert. A selection of Hungary’s top wines and champagne accompanied the dishes.
Numerous sponsors of the contest -namely Metro, Grand Tokaj, Bridor, Bragard and Bocuse d’Or Winnes – were present at the event with stands of individual designs in the VIP Village to promote themselves to partners.
While the other sponsoring suppliers – Mauviel, Convotherm, Rougié, Villeroy & Boch, Nespresso, Duni, CHEF, Valrhona, S.Pellegrino – contributed to the success of the event with their products only. The patrons of the Hungarian Bocuse d’Or Academy, FHB, MKB and Magyar Telekom received the opportunity to also appear with a stand at the entrance of the competition.
A 330sqm VIP Lounge was dedicated to the distinguished patrons, partners and guests. Everyone invited to this area enjoyed the contest along with delicious food and beverage specialties.
The event included several off site social functions as well over the three days, some of which were also organised by the Hungexpo team: The Grand Chef’s dinner started with a cocktail function in the Parliament, then guests were transferred to the Pesti Vigadó, taking one of the world’s most spectacular tram line offering World Heritage views of the illuminated Danube bridges and Buda. The five-course dinner took place in the ballroom of the historic Pesti Vigadó, Budapest’s 19th century entertainment venue.
The closing event of the competition, the Gala Dinner was held in one of the most prestigious and beautiful locations of Budapest, the Buda Castle, where a glass tent with the capacity of 900 was built only for this purpose.
After two days of fierce competition, 11 European candidates earned their qualification to take part in the World Final that will take place in Lyon, France, 24-25 January 2017, when they will also be celebrating the 30 years of existence of the contest.
How successful was the event?
The success of the event was crowned by the victory of the Hungarian chef Tamás Széll, who won Bocuse d’Or Europe 2016, at home, surpassing the other 19 participants with his talent, creativity and great competition skills.
Bocuse d’Or contest in Budapest attracted great media attention: 500 accredited members of the press, half of them from abroad attended and reported from the event which created a great buzz for the city and the Hungarian culinary art across Europe.
In his closing remarks, the president of the jury, Jerome Bocuse –son of the founder of Bocuse d’Or, Paul Bocuse – called the event the best organised European final in its 30-year history, putting Hungary on the world map of culinary art.